Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sandy Levy, April 11, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:01 - Introduction / Levy's family background

Play segment

Partial Transcript: For official purposes, today is April the 11th, 2016. And my name is Janice Crane and I am part of the interviewing team for the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project funded by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.

Segment Synopsis: Sanford (Sandy) Elliot Levy was born in Lexington, Kentucky at Good Samaritan Hospital. His grandparents, Joe and Jennie Levy were part of a wave of Jewish immigration from a shtetl in present-day Lithuania named Pushelat that was a result of the Bolshevik Revolution. Sandy has one brother, Paul Levy, who is one of the authors of "The Original Foodie Handbook" and several other books on a group of English intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Circle. He also wrote a book about Lexington Jewish history entitled "Finger Lickin' Good: A Kentucky Childhood." Sandy also names his wives, children, and grandchildren.

Keywords: "Finger Lickin' Good: A Kentucky Childhood"; "The Original Foodie Handbook"; Ann Barr; Arcadia Park; Bloomsbury Circle; Bolshevik Revolution; Christian Harmon; Colleen Levy; Dana Gregory; Darien (Conn.); G.E. Moore; Good Samaritan Hospital on Harrison Avenue; Hermain (Tenn.); Hyman Solomon Levy; Jennie Herman; Jennifer (Levy) Harmon; Joe Levy; Joe Miller; Lexington (Ky.); Lytton Strachey; Megan Levy; Miranda Harmon; Paul Levy; Pushelat (Lithuania); Sanford Elliot Levy; Scott Levy; Shirley Betty Singer; Shtetl; Tommy Levy

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Families.; Family histories.; Jewish families.

GPS: Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.0422416, -84.50068820000001
00:08:59 - Levy family farming business

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay. Before we get into your parents' occupation and/or yours, let's talk some about the work that your paternal grandfather Joe Levy did, since he was both in the dry goods business and in the farming business.

Segment Synopsis: Levy's grandfather, Herman Levy, partially owned a retail clothing store on Upper Street, in Lexington, Kentucky, He primarily owned farmland in the southern Lexington area where they grew tobacco, raised cattle, and did various other agricultural ventures.

Keywords: Athens Boonesboro; Billy Golton; Bob Oestreicher; Cattle farms; Cleveland Road; Dry goods; Fred Basler; Harry Goller; Jennie Kraus; Jerry Moskovitz; Joe Levy; Joe Miller; Kosher butchers; Levi Jeans; Marvin Kraus; Max Kraus; Michael Oestreicher; Mike Oestreicher; Pushcarts; Richmond Road; Rosenberg's (jewelry store); Ruthie Oestriecher; Sam Herman; Tobacco farms; Tobacco subsidization; Winchester (Ky.)

Subjects: Entrepreneurship; Family farms.; Farm life.; Food animals.; Jewish businesspeople; Livestock.; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership; Traditional farming

GPS: Approximate Location of the Farms that Joe Levy Owned
Map Coordinates: 37.9493719, -84.36442899999997
00:23:05 - The Levy family and Welgo Traders

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay. At what point in time did your family go from the cattle business to the retail business and how did this trans, transition take place?

Segment Synopsis: Levy's father began the shoe department at Meyers' store in downtown Lexington, Kentucky and eventually became one of the founders of the Welgo Traders in 1951, one of the largest retail clothing stores in Lexington, Kentucky for much of the 20th century. After Welgo Traders closed as a result of other department stores moving into the area, Sandy Levy moved into the real estate business. He also discusses the relationship he had with the owners of Mr. Wigg's department stores.

Keywords: Breckinridge School; David Weil; Hoskell Goldberg; Joe Miller; Meyer's; Old Kentucky Chocolates; S. Broadway; Southland Drive; Sterling Radio; University of Kentucky; Vivian Weil; Welgo; Winchester Road

Subjects: Entrepreneurship; Jewish businesspeople; Lexington (Ky.); Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership

GPS: Original location of Welgo Traders
Map Coordinates: 38.041537, -84.46705099999997
00:40:14 - Levy's Jewish upbringing

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, how would you describe your parents', your mother, and your father's relationship to Judaism?

Segment Synopsis: Levy's father was very religious and would oftentimes substitute and lead Jewish services for the rabbi in Lexington, Kentucky at Ohavay Zion Synagogue. Levy was never very religious and his ex-wife Luann was the first woman to receive a bat mitzvah at Temple Adath Israel. He reflects on sitting in religious services at the synagogue as a child, attending Sunday school at the Temple, and dealing with anti-Semitism while in elementary school. He attended Lafayette High School, was a member of the local Jewish youth group and attended Jewish summer camp at Camp GUCI in Zionsville, Indiana.

Keywords: Afikomen; Bar mitzvahs; Bat mitzvahs; Douglas High School; Eight Degrees of Charity; Joe Levy; Jonah Jacobs; Kenwick Elementary School; Lafayette High School; Maimonides; Ohavay Zion Synagogue (Lexington, Ky.); Passover Seder; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; Rabbi Joe Rosenbloom; Rabbi Robert A. Rothman; Rabbis; Sam Herman; Singer family; Temple Adath Israel; Will Dunn; Women and Judaism; Yom Kippur; Zionsville (Ind.)

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Discrimination.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) in Zionsville, Indiana.
Map Coordinates: 39.92304300000001, -86.28361699999999
00:50:01 - Levy's college life and adult Jewish life

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I know that your first college experience began at Miami of Ohio.

Segment Synopsis: Levy attended Miami University in Ohio briefly before transferring to the University of Kentucky. He dropped out of college after his junior year but while he was in school he played all night poker games with his friends where he made enough money to build his first house. He wasn't involved in any student organizations while he was a student and his Judaism had little impact on his college life. He married his long-time girlfriend Luann at the age of 21. They sent their children to Sunday school per the request of his father, but because of their lack of interest in Judaism the kids never became very religious. Sandy also discusses some of their family friends that were Jewish, and their affiliation with the Lexington Jewish community.

Keywords: English major; Hanukkah (also Chanukah and other spellings); Harriet Ades; Hillel; Linden Walk (Lexington); Lou Ann Levy; Lowenthal Family; Marc Kline; Miami (OH) University; Mike Ades; Ohavay Zion Synagogue (Lexington); Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji); Temple Adath Israel (Lexington, synagogue); University of Chicago; University of Kentucky; Winniker Family

Subjects: College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Religious life; College students--Social conditions; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.

GPS: Linden Walk, Lexington, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.037093, -84.49896580000001
00:59:03 - Levy's business ventures / Jewish life reflections

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, what work do you do or did you do that we haven't already talked about?

Segment Synopsis: Levy had numerous business ventures throughout his life. He opened up a group of department stores called The Better Half that sold uniquely sized women's clothing. He also was one of the co-founders of FastCare which later became Kroger's The Little Clinic. He reflects on his views of the Jewish religion before discussing his step-father Arthur "Babe" Meyers.

Keywords: Arthur "Babe" Meyers; Bob Stevens; Chevy Chase (Lexington, Ky.); Dave Greenwald; FastCare; Florence Mall; Joseph A Banks (store); Kenwood (Cincinnati, Ohio); Kroger; Lexington Mall; McAlpin's; Quaker Oats; Stuart Lowenthal; The Better Half (store); The Lexington Herald Leader; The Little Clinic; Yarmulkes

Subjects: Entrepreneurship; Jewish businesspeople; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership